Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

19 March 2017

For Pema Gyaltsen March 18 2017

For Pema Gyaltsen, 24 yrs old, who self immolated in Nyarong, Kham, Tibet on March 18 2017.
He set himself on fire around 4 pm local time near Tsoga Monastery.

The police reportedly arrived at the scene and immediately took away his body and the site of the protest was blocked by a huge police presence.

There is no further information on Pema Gayltsen and his current condition remains unknown.

It is said, however, he carried his protest against the suppressive measures taken to Tibetan people by the ruling government.

When I saw the painful news of his protest online, did I also come across with an excerpt from 'White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings' by Tsewang Y. Pemba.

I share it here as I do feel it explains all - why Pema Gyaltsen and many other had to take this painful way of protest.

"Tenga was convinced that one must own the soil beneath one's feet and the sky above one's head - or else, one owned nothing. Religion, culture, politics, food habits, clothes, language, songs and dances - all these things came much much later.  They were mere sophistications.
All he asked for was that the soil beneath his feet and the sky above his had - be his.
That's all he wanted.
That's all he asked for.
That is True Freedom.
That is True Liberation."

Excerpt from 'White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings' by Tsewang Y. Pemba

May the true freedom and liberation come to the Land of Snows and world so as nobody
has to live and die like this.